411 Advisors: Susan Haugh

Posted on: November 1st, 2013 by GALA Communications GALA Articles No Comments

Susan Haugh is the founding Executive Artistic Director of Dreams of Hope (now in its tenth season), a multidisciplinary arts organization for queer youth and allies, and serves currently as its Artistic Director. Through the power of the arts, Dreams of Hope provides Western Pennsylvania’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied (LGBTQA) youth a welcoming environment to grow in confidence, express themselves, and develop as leaders. Their creative contributions educate audiences, build awareness, and increase acceptance. The inception of Dreams of Hope overlapped with Susan’s Artistic Direction of the Renaissance City Women’s Choir, a choir for LBT and allied women which she founded in 1995, and sister to the men’s choir. Susan served on the Board of Directors of GALA Choruses from 2003-2005 and in 2004 was co-chair of the festival in Montreal. Susan currently serves as Chair of Pride Youth Theater Alliance’s Mentoring Committee and is the mentor for YOUnify, Youngstown, Ohio’s newly formed queer youth theater. You can reach Susan at youthadvisor@galachoruses.org.

“There is tremendous momentum in the queer youth movement right now. I am excited to work with the youth leaders to ride this wave! Together we will develop the youth choral movement. Thank you GALA Choruses for this opportunity.

After meeting in Atlanta at the Leadership Symposium I came away with a greater understanding of what people, interested in starting a youth chorus, need to know. Here are some starting points:

  • You will need an Artistic Director who is a youth worker as well as a musician. This person must be energetic and youthful, love working with young people (giving both encouragement and clear boundaries), adept at using all sorts of social media, and knows the latest trends and music.
  • The mission must be youth centered with youth involved in the organization at as many levels as possible – youth leadership.
  • The AD must have a vision for the chorus.
  • The AD must commit to leading the group for a significant amount of time (I would recommend 3-5 years. In the beginning numbers will be low, especially in closeted areas of the country. It takes time to start a new group. You are supporting and helping to develop HUMAN BEINGS – you are not just singing!!! You are nurturing the youth to remain open hearted and open minded.
  • DO NOT START A YOUTH CHORUS because you think it will be a way to bring in grant funding for your choral organization. Do it for the youth, whatever it takes.
  • There are technical things that one needs in place as well such as a rehearsal space on a mass transit stop, subsidized bus/subway tickets, community partnerships, a collaboration with a queer focused, social service agency (or individuals if living in a small town), and FOOD!

These sorts of details will be up on the GALA Choruses’ website by the end of the calendar year, including example permission forms and ideas for traveling and generating modest performance fees.

Email or call/text my cell:(412) 422-6160 if you would like to talk. I would love to meet YOU and your youth!!!!”

-Susan Haugh